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Thomas Mann’s ‚Wälsungenblut‘

A point of divergence between conservatism and antisemitism

Seong Joo Lee

Pages 33 - 46

A review of the history of studies of Thomas Mann’s novella ‚Wälsungenblut‘ reveals a dividing line between those authors who see antisemitic elements in the novella, with critical viewpoints on one side and voices raised in Mann’s defense on the other. Many studies focus on the antisemitic clichés typical of the Wilhelmine era, whereas other interpretations emphasize Mann’s sympathy for Jewish assimilation, his laments concerning its frustration, and his critical distance from Wagner and Wagnerism. This paper offers a critical study of these two viewpoints and presents some new analyses, revealing, for instance, that the theme of “The Little Mermaid” appears in this story, albeit camouflaged as defined by Heinrich Detering. On this basis, this paper sets out to read the story in the light of the correlation between conservatism and antisemitism, thereby introducing a political and historical perspective to the interpretation of the novella ‚Wälsungenblut‘.


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